Predeparture — Part 1
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
The time we spent in Baachsburg flew by in a flash. We saw the sights, enjoyed the attractions, and even learned a thing or two while we were at it. In our downtime, we ate all the things, relaxed in the hot springs, and slept all our fatigue away.
While the kids were off, for lack of a better term, being kids, the adults visited the various professors and heard many a story about Leila’s ridiculous childhood. She was rather embarrassed by the whole ordeal, but in my book, that was a win. More specifically, seeing her act all shy was the real win.
All in all, it was a wonderful vacation. We stayed much longer than we initially planned, and I had every intention of returning for round two, one day.
“You better come back! You definitely have to visit again!” said Emyu, who was trying her best not to tear up.
“We will! That’s a promise!” said Illuna.
“Weer friends now, so we have to play agen!” said Shii.
“I liked it here. It was fun,” said Enne. “We’ll be back again. I know it.”
The wraith girls spun around the young demon, as if to bid their farewells.
Off to the side, Leila and Eldegaria exchanged a quick look.
“Take all the time you need, Leila. But make sure you look into your heart and figure out how it is you really feel. The emotional journey is certainly an educational exploration in its own right, and if you view it as such, I’m sure it will help sate the curiosity welling up within you.”
“I will, Professor. As one of your proud students, I’ll do my utmost to understand myself.”
“Then I’ll be expecting a report the next time we see each other.”
I turned to Lefi after watching the two say their goodbyes.
“Alright, so I have a bit of business with the demon realm’s king. You guys are going to have to head home without me for now. I’ll catch up later,” I said. “Oh, and do check up on the pets for me, once you’re back.”
“That, I shall,” said Lefi. “Just as I shall provide them with a luxurious meal.”
“Sounds good. They deserve a pretty hefty reward, after we made them watch the house for so long.”
“I can’t wait to get back and give the pets lots of pets!” Illuna joined the conversation with a big smile.
“Everyone’s super fluffy! I love petting them,” said Shii.
“Orochi’s the best. He’s really smooth,” said Enne.
Emyu, who had been on the verge of breaking into tears, curiously tilted her head.
“You guys have pets?”
“Yup! We have a dog and a cat and a bird and a snake, and even a ball of water!”
“A ball of water….? That one doesn’t sound like it fits. But wow, you have a lot! Taking care of them all must be a chore.”
“It’s not hard at all. They’re all really smart and they can even feed themselves!”
“They’re all smurt! I think they’re smurter than me!” said Shii.
The wraith girls nodded, as if to agree with the declaration.
Okay… look… you guys have a point, sure, but when you say it like that, it just sounds kinda sad. Let’s just… not, I thought, with a wry smile.
“Rir, the dog, is especially smart,” said Enne. “He knows exactly what we say. I think I’m going to teach him to play shogi.”
“Shogi? What’s that?”
“It’s a board game. And it’s fun.”
“Wow, there sure are a lot of intelligent species out there. Your pets sound really interesting, so interesting that I almost want to try studying them.”
Overhearing the conversation led Leila to mutter under her breath.
“Emyu is going to be in for quite the surprise when she meets him.”
“Might those pets be the monsters that the demon lord controls? The ones that serve him as his kin? It certainly wouldn’t be incorrect to describe them as intelligent, but…” Eldegaria scrunched up her face.
Oh yeah, she did see them during the war, didn’t she?
“I think I should probably butt in,” I said. “At the very least, I need to tell her that he’s technically a wolf, and not a dog. You know, for the sake of his honour and whatnot.”
“If Rir was here, I’m sure he’d give you a sad look and tell you that you’re poking at the wrong part of the problem,” said Nell.
Lyuu laughed. “Now ain’t that the truth.”
“Indeed. It is times like these that I must note his… misfortune.”
After making a few jokes and completely getting rid of the sad, soppy mood, the girls activated their warp crystals and returned to the dungeon.
After saying goodbye to Emyu and the professor, I took to the skies and headed for the capital. Man, it’s been a long time since I’ve flown alone. I swear I’ve always had at least one person with me for the longest time now.
Not even Enne was present. For the first time in a long time, I was truly alone, so I took the rare moment to attend to some of my thoughts.
I started to contemplate.
About Lefi. About Leila. About the child. And about the future, as a whole.
Everything had changed in the blink of an eye. I was still processing it all. It almost didn’t feel real. And in spite of that, I knew that it was only just getting started. There were going to be even bigger changes down the line.
And I don’t just mean us. I mean… the world.
Though I couldn’t say for sure, I was suspecting that we were at a historical crossroads, a turning point that would forever remain in the books, something that future students would have to cram right before a test.
And I had every intention of supporting the changes to come. For my family’s sake.
Eldegaria’s words had left a deep impression.
She had a point, and an excellent one at that. I was the man of the house. I had to support my family.
I was going to have to prove my worth, regardless of whether said worth truly existed. I wasn’t exactly planning on suddenly getting all dignified and acting like someone else entirely, but at the very least, I was going to have to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground.
And like every other father out there, I was going to have to fake it until I finally made it. For my kids.
I had to be a man.
Maybe I should ask my guy friends, or at least the ones with kids, for advice. Hmmm… the first one that comes to mind is King Reiyd. Guess I’ll have to stop by his castle sooner or later.
I continued flying and thinking various thoughts until I finally saw Regighihegg on the horizon. I didn’t exactly have an appointment, but decided to casually fly over to the castle anyway. Naturally, I was soon greeted by a soldier, who flew up to meet me.
“Halt! This area is a no-fly zo—Yuki?”
“Oh, Haloria! Long time no see.”
I was greeted by a familiar face, namely one Haloria Laylott, a member of Phynar’s secret service. I still remembered her because she was the only reason that he and I had ever met in the first place.
“It’s been a long time,” she said, with a smile. “But it doesn’t feel very long. I’ve been hearing a lot about your various exploits.”
“Exploits? What exploits?”
“The ones from the Helldrakean War, of course. I was gathering information behind the scenes,” she explained. “Are you here to see His Majesty?”
“Yeah. I know I just stopped by, but something else came up and I was hoping I could speak with him real quick. Would you mind ringing him up?”
“I’ll do just that. I’m sure he’ll be happy to see you.”